RANDOLPH From the classic and romantic to the contemporary and cool, 38 couples at St. Matthew Parish here flashbacked to their wedding day and remembered the first song they danced to that is forever etched in their minds.
“Our song was ‘Celebrate Good Times’ to really make our wedding feel like a joyous celebration,” said Jim and Linda Baratte, parishioners of Notre Dame of Mount Carmel Church in Cedar Knolls, who led the Marriage Enrichment Day at St. Matthew’s March 11.
The afternoon reflection day featured a presentation and small group sharing, the celebration of Mass in which the couples renewed their marriage vows and then a candlelight dinner.
A team of five couples from St. Matthew’s coordinated the day. “This all came about because of our active Cornerstone Retreat programs geared specifically for men or women,” Father Daniel Murphy, pastor at St. Matthew’s, said. “Participants wanted us to talk more about the Sacrament of Marriage so we realized it was important to do something to enrich marriages. The day was a real opportunity for the married couples to focus and affirm the sacrament, especially during the season of Lent.”
The Barattes, who were married on Oct. 5, 1985 at Resurrection Parish here and are longtime friends of Father Murphy, titled the presentation “Seven Habits of Highly Sacramental Marriages,” based on the late Stephen Covey’s book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Through talks about their own experiences in married life and small groups among the couples, the couple talked about being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, putting first things first, thinking win-win, understanding one another, synergizing and sharpening the saw.
Linda Baratte, who recently retired as director of the Center for Theology at the College of St. Elizabeth, said, “It was a wonderful event. All the couples were asked to bring photos from their wedding day and it was a great reminder that this was a day to celebrate the sacrament.”
Each couple shared the story about how they met and discussed the ups and downs throughout the years. The couples ranged from a couple that was married less than 10 years to a couple married more than 30 years.
The Barattes, who have six children and 10 grandchildren, said, “We reminded the couples about the commitment they made and asked them when they knew their marriage was a sacrament. In today’s society, there’s a highly romanticized idea about marriage that it will always be perfect. Because it won’t always be perfect, we wanted the couples to remember that it was sacrament and that we pledged ourselves to each other for a lifetime and we are here in it for the long haul.”
Another area the Barattes focused on was “sharpening the saw.” Jim Baratte, a retired executive from Prudential, said, “Sometimes as a married couple, we need to shut down the production line and do some maintenance in our marriages. We reminded couples the importance of keeping the romance part alive and we hoped that we were helping throw another log on an already burning fire or fanning the embers if that fire may have gone out a little. Couples need to focus and remember why we got married sometimes.”
Richard and Ann Piovano, one of the couples attending the enrichment day, will celebrate their silver anniversary this year. “It was a heartwarming day to take off from our busy lives and spend it with my spouse,” said Richard Piovano. “The day reminded us to put the Sacrament of Marriage and the vocation of it as a priority. Sometimes between career, raising the kids and the time we take for ourselves, we can forget to make marriage a top priority. We need to remember to focus on our marriages, which it was one of the first big decisions many of us made as young adults.”
Ann Piovano, who leads Pre-Cana for engaged couples with her husband, said, “It was a great workshop to keep a marriage healthy and happy. The day took many couples back to the day they got married.”
Because the day was so successful, St. Matthew’s is already planning another Marriage Enrichment Day next year. Father Murphy said, “We will definitely do this again and hope to have more couples participate. We had to turn couples away because of the room size but next year we plan on using a larger space. All the couples thought it was a great day.”